Allocating cancer-directed expenditures: Tensions between prevention, early detection and treatment is unnecessary

Bruce E. Hillner, Thomas J. Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


In most countries, the allocation of financial resources for cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment come from different nonrelated "silos." Primary prevention benefits have the greatest economic return since the cancer benefits are intertwined with other major health conditions. Smoking alone accounts for about one-third cancer deaths. In most affluent countries, vaccines for selected viral caused cancers are (wisely) widely available if not optimally utilized. Estimating the additional cancer burden from obesity is still evolving. Age-targeted, less frequent but higher rates of participation in early detection of cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer will likely be prudent expenditures. The last 20 years in high-income countries, there has seen an explosion in demand and the costs of cancer drug or biologic therapy, a modest growth in some forms of radiation, yet minimal or declining surgical costs for primary disease control. Expenditures for cancer drugs are now the world leader of any medication category. While a few have truly led to marked benefits, all have been priced at levels that strain or break budgets. We comment on ten steps or principles that can be applied in most countries that can meaningfully reduce cancer care costs with minimal impact on survival and maintain or enhance quality of patient's life especially with advanced disease. We emphasize limiting systemic therapies for metastatic disease to fully ambulatory patients, those who previously responded to therapy, and earlier initiation of palliative care. Changing behaviors, incentives, expectations, and the framing of treatment effects are necessary to "bend" the current unrelenting cancer care cost curve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClinical Cancer Prevention
EditorsHans-Jorg Senn, Florian Otto
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Feb 7 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRecent Results in Cancer Research
ISSN (Print)0080-0015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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